The P.U.S.H. Principle

Have you ever thought you were doing the right thing only to begin doubting yourself?  Have you ever known you were doing what God wanted you to do but were still not succeeding?  What is going on here?  Does God want us to fail?  Is He playing a trick on us?  Of course not!

Not too long ago, I came across a wonderful story with an incredible principle for success.  It goes something like this.  Once upon a time, a man was sleeping peacefully in his cabin when all of a sudden the room filled with a brilliant blazing light.  When the mans eyes adjusted to the piercing light, he was shocked to see Jesus Christ standing in his room.  The Lord said to the man, Friend, I have work for you to do.  Out in front of your cabin you will find a large rock. You are to push against that rock with all your strength.

 

The next morning, the man awoke with more energy than he could ever remember having.  Was it a dream he had of his visit with Jesus?  Was it real?  The man didnt know whether it was a dream, vision, or what, but he knew what he was supposed to do.  He was to push against the large rock outside his cabin.

 

The man got dressed and immediately went outside.  He thought to himself, Ill get this rock moved for the Lord before breakfast.  The man pushed and pushed but the rock didnt budge.  Sweat began to pour off the mans forehead into his eyes.  Perspiration began to soak his shirt.  Push after push, hour after hour, the man worked on his mission.

 

The days came and the days went and still the rock stood fast.  One day, after many years of faithful pushing, the mans spirit began to get discouraged.  What was he doing this for?

 

Sensing the mans discouragement and frustration, the Devil began placing evil thoughts into the mans mind.  What are you doing?  You are wasting your time.  You have wasted your time for years.  You are never going to move that rock.

Discouraged, the man planned to not work as hard.  He would only push a little bit.  He was going to put in his time and rest for a change.  However, the man finally decided to make it a matter of prayer.  He said, Father in Heaven.  I dont understand.  I have worked hard at what You want me to do.  Why am I not succeeding?  Please guide me Lord Jesus.   In Jesus precious Name I pray Amen.

The Lord lovingly spoke to the man,  My child.  I love you!  When I asked you to serve me and you agreed, I asked you to push against that large rock.  I never told you that you were to move the rock. You have been faithful and pushed with all your strength.  Friend, dont think your work was a waste of time.  Look at yourself.   You have grown through the struggle.  The muscles in your arms are as strong as iron.  Your back is like a fortress protecting a city.  Your legs are like Redwood trees.  You are better now than when you began.  I will now move the rock.

Many times we expect to move the mountains of our lives.  The Bible tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed then we can say to our mountain   MOVE! and it will MOVE!  But it doesnt say we will move the mountain.  God moves the mountains of our lives.  All we have to do is believe and  P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens!

A Champion Succeeds Through Power Communicating

t has been said that public speaking is a fear worse than death for many people.  Well, the truth is that we will not be as successful as we could be unless we improve our communication skills.  In this article, we are going to explore some insights and action steps, which lead to more effective communication.  The only way to really conquer a fear is to confront it and jump right in.  With that in mind, let’s get started.

1.  Realize that communication may be the most important skill we can learn.  We all need to be able to express our thoughts effectively.  We are creatures of relationships.  Relationships are very important to us.  In order to make our relationships better we must make our communication better.

2.  Guard our tongues.  Sometimes the most important message is the one we never give.  Have you ever said something and then wish we could take it back?   I think all of us have. Controlling our tongues is one of the most important and most difficult communication challenges.  In another chapter in this manual we go into more detail on how to accomplish this task.

3.  Decide that communication is a priority.  If something is a priority then what do we usually give it?  ANSWER:  Time and Commitment.

4.  Talk with people not at them.  Have you ever been talked DOWN to?  How did it make you feel?  How did you feel at that moment about the person talking to you?  Not too good right?  We need to talk WITH people.  We need to make our communication conversational and user friendly.  We need to ask ourselves, “How can I uplift this person as I express my thoughts and opinions?” This will help us communicate our messages in a more compassionate way.  Even if we have to communicate some ugly message, compassion will see us through.

5.  Have an open door policy.  We must make time for people.  If we lived in President Lincoln’s day and wanted to speak with the president all we would have to do is walk in the White House and sit outside his door.  When he came out, we would be able to speak with him.  We need to do the same thing.  If it worked for the president, it will work for us.  If at that moment it is not appropriate, then make an appointment with them.

6.  Understand what Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. believe when they say, “Communication is built on trusting relationships.” If people don’t trust us, then why would they listen to us?

7.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Speakers USA, Inc.  was a national speakers association, which helped train me.  They used to tell us that if we want a talk/presentation to look impromptu then make sure it is not.  In other words do your homework and practice, practice, prepare, prepare, prepare.

8.  Don’t give a public presentation/talk unless you are passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.  If we are not passionate about the topic then it will come across flat and boring. If we are not knowledgeable about the topic then our credibility will drop.

9.  Make sure your body language, tone of voice, and message are congruent.  Suppose I came up to you and said in a very gruff tone, “Sure, I would love to have the boss over for dinner!”  Do you think I really want the boss to come over for dinner?  You don’t think so? Why?  ANSWER:  Because I wouldn’t be congruent. When we aren’t congruent in every way, then we give mixed messages to our listeners.

10.  Have patience.  Communication, particularly public communication, is not easy.  Be patient with yourself.  You won’t become an expert overnight.  Keep practicing and keep improving.

11.  Look for the benefit of our differences.  We need to constantly remind ourselves that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.

12.  If agreement cannot be made then agree to disagree.  A great way to keep the peace.

13.  Keep your cool when someone improperly states something.  They may not be trying to insult you.  Have you ever thought you were being insulted but were not sure?  Instead of reactively attacking back, just wait.  They may have just said something in an awkward fashion.  Don’t jump to conclusions. Believe me, if they were actually trying to insult you and they thought you didn’t get it, they will insult you again.  And if they were insulting you then just simply tell them that you don’t appreciate it and that you forgive them.

14.  Always try to part on a positive upbeat ending.  Nobody likes to leave with a sour attitude in his/her stomach.  Always try to make peace before you end a conversation.

15.  Loyalty many times comes from private conversations. Build trust by keeping confidences.

16.  Use stories to illustrate your points.  Jesus Christ always used stories when He taught the crowds.  Abraham Lincoln believed in stories too.  Lincoln said, “They say I tell a great many stories.  I reckon I do; but I have learned from long experience that plain people, take them as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a broad and humorous illustration than in any other way….”  REMEMBER:  ALWAYS HAVE A POINT TO YOUR STORY.

17.  Learn to speak off the cuff (extemporaneously).  Lincolnsaid, “Extemporaneously speaking should be practiced and cultivated.  It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public.  However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech.”  One way to practice this is to grab your local paper and read a few headlines.  Practice speaking on those topics for 1-2 minutes for each topic.

18.  Join a Toastmasters club.  Toastmasters International is an international speaking club designed to help people of all walks of life become more effective communicators and thus more successful.  I was a member of Toastmasters for years and I really enjoyed and benefited from the experience.

19.  Remember, we don’t have to make a long speech in order to be effective.  Just say what needs to be said and then stop talking.  I remind you of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

20.  Use Millard Bennett’s 30-10 Power Formula.  What is the 30-10 Power Formula?  First you read for 30 minutes everyday in whatever area you want to develop yourself in.  This will build up your knowledge base.  Of that 30 minutes, read out loud for 10 minutes.  Reading out loud will improve your communication skills. It will improve your pronunciation, voice inflections, stamina, etc…. Of that 10 minutes, read part of it in a whisper, maybe a minute or two.  Reading in a whisper will eliminate all those um, ahh, and all those other verbal fillers.  This formula is one of the simplest formulas to practice but one of the most powerful.  Try it for a month and see what you think.

21.  Understand that an inspiring talk can change the face of an organization, nation, family, or an entire world.  I remind you of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, JFK’s challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachov tear down this wall.”

I am convinced that if you really practice and work on these 21 steps you will become a POWER COMMUNICATOR and a greater success.  Make it happen and have fun.

A Champion Has a ‘Yes’ Face

What does your face say to people?  That is kind of an odd question but none the less a very important one.   Does your face say, Glad to help.  Anytime.  Or does it say, Too busy today,  come back tomorrow.

 R. Lofton Hudson tells a very intriguing story about the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.  One day, President Jefferson and some associates were traveling on horseback.  They came across a river that had flooded over its banks.  The rain had come so hard and fast that the river had flooded and the bridge was washed away.  With no bridge, how were they to get across.  Well, the decision was made that they must cross the river bridge or no bridge.

Rider after rider plunged into the river.  The dangerously fast current put each rider and horse six inches from deaths door.   About this time, a stranger was traveling down the road.  The ruckus in the river grabbed the mans attention.  What would happen?   Would these people die?  The man stood transfixed watching the crisis unfold. Finally, the man came up to the president and asked if could ride with him across the river.  The President said yes without hesitation.   After the man slid off the presidents horse safely on the other side of the river, one of the presidents companions asked the man, Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of? The man looked at him dumbfounded.  He explained that he had no idea that was the president.  All he knew was that many of them had the answer No written on their faces and many had the answer Yes written on their faces.  His was a Yes face.

Again I ask you (and myself); what does your face say to people? Do you have a Yes face or a No face?  The champion wears the face of compassion. The same type of face as President Jefferson.  The face of YES!

A Champion Uses the Good Thought Habit

Have you ever heard the computer term “garbage in; garbage out?” Well, it is true with habits too.  If we have bad habits then the result will be a disempowering life.  On the other hand, if we have good habits then we will live an empowering successful life.

One of the most vital habits we need to focus on is our thought habits.  Dr. Shad Helmstetter (the author of What To Say When You Talk To Your Self) said that by the time the average person reaches 18 years of age that they have heard the word “no” or things they can’t do 148,000 times.  Some of those were healthy for us, “Johnny don’t touch the stove or you will get burnt.”  However, many of them were not healthy for us.  In fact, many of them are self-imposed.  For example, we may say to ourselves, “I can’t do that, I don’t have what it takes,” or “I am too small, or “I don’t have enough education,” or even “I have too much education,” and the list goes on and on and on.

So, in essence, we have been programmed negatively.  Dr. Mike Murdock said, “What you hear the most you eventually will believe.”  If we tell ourselves that we are losers enough times then we will eventually believe it.  But, if we tell ourselves the truth enough times that we are champions designed for greatness then we will believe that too.  The choice is ours…GOOD THOUGHT HABITS OR BAD THOUGHT HABITS.

Dr. Helmstetter teaches people the concept of self-talk or positive affirmations.  Just as we may have been programmed negatively, we can take back that programming positively.  Dr. Helmstetter teaches that we can conquer all kinds of challenges through the consistency of positive self-talk.  For example, let’s say we are salespeople. However, we are salespeople who have a fear of cold calls.  Now, we have a challenge.  Not the least being having enough money to eat.  So, how do we solve this challenge?  Through positive self talk!  If we are afraid of cold calls it is because of what we have consistently told ourselves about cold calls.  We would need to change that by telling ourselves something like, “I love cold calls.  I know the more cold calls I make the more people I can serve with my product, service, etc….  I want to fill those peoples’ needs.  I am going to make another cold call.”  We would need to read this to ourselves over and over and over until we think and feel differently about cold calls.  REMEMBER, GOOD STUFF IN; GOOD STUFF OUT.

So, how can you use this in your life?  By conquering your challenges by writing your own self talk.  Make sure it is positive as if you are conquering or already conquered the challenge.  Positive quotations work great too.  Find your favorite quotes and read them often.  I use scripture everyday as positive self-talk.  I have my favorite scriptures I go through everyday which help me stay upbeat, positive, and headed in the right direction.

I have taken the liberty to create positive self talk for you.  I encourage you to read the following to yourself at least once a day for 30 days.  After that, at least twice per week.  It combines scripture and positive concepts.  Try reading this self-talk out loud once in awhile.  I think you will find it works even better.

I am an incredible person.  I was created in Gods image.  That means I have a great heritage. 

I am a positive thinker.  I look for the best in myself, all people, and in all situations.  Thus because of the law of attraction, I find the best in myself, all people, and in all situations. 

Happiness is a choice and I choose happiness and I find it too.  Success leaves clues and I have discovered the secret clues.  These success principles have lived the test of time.  They are laws that have developed my philosophy.

I believe in continuous improvement.  Everyday, I strive to be better than I was yesterday.   It does not take leaps and bounds to have great success.   All it takes is one step at a time.  Each step takes me closer to my dream.  I am improving!  I am a champion!

I believe in the Law of Averages and so I do not fear rejection.  I know that the more times that I hear no then the more yes I will hear right around the corner.  The Law of Averages is consistent and tends to repeat itself.   I use the Law of Averages and I win!

Just like the farmer who plants seeds in the spring expecting a harvest in the fall, I plant the seeds of success everyday and I expect a harvest too.   Every once in a while, the locusts and the storm steal our harvest, but more times than not, there is a harvestand a beautifully large harvest it is.  Much larger than the seeds I planted.   I believe in the seed and the harvest. 

I am a person of action.  I do not procrastinate.  I pray, I plan, I take action!  I take action now!  I take action now!  I take action now!

Relationships-Friendship is a Power to Focus Our Lives

Today, I want to talk with you about two types of relationships that sometimes get confused.  Relationships are a vital part of all of our lives.  When our relationships are prospering then we are prospering.  When our relationships are challenged, then so is our lives.

The first relationship we want to discuss today is one betweenAdult Children Parent Relationship. You have probably heard it said to “Honor our mothers and fathers.”  and for children to “Obey their mothers and fathers.”  This is where some people get confused.  Honoring and obeying are not the same thing.  When we are adults, we don’t have to obey our parents, we have to honor them.  Honor does not mean doing everything our parents want. Honor means supporting them.  Honor means listening to them. Honor means not forgetting them.  Honor means respecting them. Honor means sharing our lives with them.  Honor means taking care of them if they need help.  Honor means being a friend to them. Honor means…LOVING THEM!

The second relationship  we want to talk about today is Brother to Brother  or Sister to Sister.   Now, I am not talking about siblings.  All of us need friends of the same sex.  We need those nights playing basketball with the guys or those chats with the girls. There are times that it is more comfortable sharing and discussing certain topics with someone of the same sex.  Many times they will understand more clearly where you are coming from then someone of the opposite sex.

 

Relationships:  The power to focus our lives.  Let me leave you today with a story.  One day, a lady (let’s call her Sally), her husband, and their youngest son walked into a McDonald’s restaurant.  The couple was looking forward to spending some quality time alone with their son.  As they were waiting in line for their food, all of a sudden all the people around them began to back away.  Even Sally’s husband backed away.   Turning to see what all the commotion was about, Sally saw something she was not expecting.  A sickening smell enveloped her.  Directly behind her were two homeless men.  The poor men probably had not bathed in days.  One of the homeless men was smiling.  He said, “Good day.”  He was counting the few coins he had in his possession. Sally noticed that his companion was mentally handicapped.  Sally realized that this kind man had taken his companion under his wing.

When the two men got to the counter, they ordered only a coffee. It was all they could afford.  All they wanted was to come in out of the cold.  In order to sit in the restaurant they had to order something.  The two men got their coffee and found a place to sit.

Compassion filled Sally’s heart.  She ordered two more breakfasts and walked up to the two men.  Sally set down the tray and laid her hand on the first man’s hand.  He looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you.”  Sally looked at the man and with a heart full of love said, “I did not do this for you.  God is here working through me to give you hope.”  Let us all give more hope today in all our relationships.

Parenting – A Child is a Wonderful Gift from God

A child is a precious gift from God.  My wife and I adore our children (even when they are cranky).  But I am the first to admit that being a parent is challenging.  Very challenging.  But it is the most important job that I have.  Here are some suggestions that I have found helpful as I strive to be the best dad I can be.

 

1.  LOVE YOUR SPOUSE:

The greatest gift and example a parent can give their children is to love their spouse.  When love has filled the house then the house is a home.

2.  GET INTO THE WORD WITH THEM:

Just like Bible reading is important for couples, it is equally important to have a family time of studying the Word of God.  The Bible teaches how to live victoriously.  Isn’t that what we want for our children.  Dont be intimidated if you have never read the Bible. Get an easy to read contemporary version and just go for it.

3.  DISCIPLINE POSITIVELY:

The Ancient Writer said, “Don’t fail to correct your children.  They won’t die if you spank them.  Physical discipline may well save them from death.” This is not popular today.  The Ancient Writer is not talking about abuse.  He is talking about discipline that teaches. Some parents will avoid all discipline because they want to be a “buddy” with their child.  That is one of the greatest disservice’s you can give your children.  You can be their friend but you are also their parents.  You are responsible for them.  Discipline them!  For one child this might mean a time out, for another it might mean a swat on the behind, and for another it might just take a talking to change their ways.  Your children are unique.  Discipline them positively by taking into account that uniqueness.

5.  TEACH THEM YOUR VALUES:

If you dont teach them your values then someone else will teach them theirs.

6.  DO NOT CAUSE YOUR CHILDREN TO HAVE WRATH:  

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger,” said the Ancient Writer.    He then went on to say, “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”   Well, what does this mean?  Let me illustrate this through a story.  Ed Cole in his book Maximized Manhood shares an experience he had with his son.  The story goes something like this.  Ed’s work was very busy.  One day, he came home from one of his many trips.  His son, Paul, walked up to him and said, “Can I have the car?”  Paul had a new driver’s license and wanted to use it.

“Why?” asked his father.

“I want to drive to youth camp at Mt. Lassen.”

“That’s a new car, ” said Ed.

“I know.”

“You have only had your license a few weeks.”

“I know.”

“That camp is 400 hundred miles away.”

Paul answered, “I know.”

Ed was now getting firm, “You are not driving a new car 400 miles away.”

“Oh, I forgot,” Paul continued, “I need the credit card too.”

“You can’t have the car.”

“But I’ve been driving with a learner’s permit for a year.”  Paul was correct there.

“You can’t have the car.  Now don’t ask me again.  The case is closed.”

Paul kicked at the floor as he headed for his room.  He was angry, frustrated, and confused.  As he got to his room, he reached for the doorknob to shove open the door.  In frustration, he didn’t turn the knob far enough and the door stood firm as a wall.  In a burst of frustrated fury, Paul kicked the door.  A gaping hole was exploded into the door.

Hearing the crash, Ed got very angry with his son.  He stomped toward his son’s room.  He was going to TEACH HIM!!  As Ed neared the door, a Bible verse came to his mind.  “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.”

In the blinking of an eye, Eds attitude changed.  What had he done to his son?  Ed felt so ashamed.  He went out to the garage for awhile.  Forty minutes later, he walked into his son’s room.  Paul was sitting on the bed, his head in his hands with tears still in his eyes.  Ed sat down beside his son.  He said, “Paul, I have sinned before you.  I had no right to provoke you to wrath.  I love you. Will you forgive me?”  Ed then handed Paul the credit card and the car keys.

Our children need our guidance and discipline but how we present it makes all the difference in the world.  Yes, from time to time our children will get angry with us.  However, there is a big difference between anger and wrath.  Make sure the package of your guidance and discipline is inviting and chewable.

Relationships – How to Have an Extraordinary Marriage

Marriage can be the most incredible, fantastic, trusting, relationship of your life.  Unfortunately, for many people, marriage is a nightmare in a long dark night.   Wherever your marriage may be today, there is hope.  Hope to re-kindle that spark of love.  If your marriage is already awesome, get ready to take it to a higher level you didnt know existed.

For the next few moments, we are going to explore some simple things we can do to spark up our marriage.  They are simple steps, but not always easy.   I encourage you to grab hold of your courage and step forward into a new wonderful life with your mate.

 

1.     MEN LOVE YOUR WIVES MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF:

Men,we have to be willing to die for that special lady in each of our lives. Put her needs before your own.  Cherish her.  Honor her. Give her a lift every day.  She is special.  Show her how special she is to you.

But doesn’t the Bible talk about that the man is the head of the household?  Yes, it does.  However, that verse has been taken out of context for long enough.  What does it really mean?  I have never heard anyone explain this any better then Reverend Ed Nelson.  He explained this one time to me.  He explained it something like this, “Think of the man as the head or mouth of a river.  What is the mouth of the rivers job?  To nourish the river.  To feed the river. The man is the head of the family, which means the man has to be the leader of servanthood.  The man has to out serve his wife.  The man has to out serve his family.  The man nourishes the family.” Wow!  Men, are you out serving your wife?  Are you nourishing your family?  Men, we are the servant leaders.  We need to serve our families.

 

2.  WIVES LOVE AND RESPECT YOUR HUSBANDS:

Alright ladies, what does this mean?  It means you need to support your husbands.  Make him feel good about who he is and what he does.  The male ego does need stroking often.  It also means let him lead.  Leadership is about influence.  The Good Book says the man is the head of the household. “What are you talking about Mark, caveman stuff?”  Of course not.  Husbands and wives should make decisions together.  It is a team effort.  A 100% / 100% team.  Try to take the emotions out of the decision.  If one of you believes you are led with the answer then share it with the other.  If you still can’t come to agreement then I believe that the impasse falls on the man’s shoulders.  Someone has to make the final decision.  I believe God has placed this BURDEN on the man.  And I do mean burden.  Men this will not be a fun decision.  It is not about power.  Ladies, please understand this burden on your husband.  Please support him and stand united with him.  Sometimes he will be right.  Sometimes he will be wrong.  This is when he really needs your love, support, and understanding.  I know this may not be popular with everyone; however, this is how you can handle decision impasses without creating World War III in your home.  REMEMBER MEN:  It is not about power.  It is about servant leadership through love.

 

3.  MEN HELP OUT AT HOME:

Some of you women are probably saying, “Amen!  Preach it brother.”  She is right men.  Many of us do not help out enough.  If you come home and expect to be served all night then you are NOT living up to your responsibilities.  Here are a few helpful suggestions:

A.  Surprise her with dinner on the table when she gets home (Ladies, if he burns the meal, still brag over his effort).

B.  Help out with the children.

C.  Do some of those “chores” around the house you have been putting off.

D.  Watch a television show she wants to watch.

 

4.  LISTEN:

The best way to show understanding is to listen to someone.  Many times, our spouses just need to be heard.  Don’t always try to come up with solutions or fix the situation.  Many times, they just need us to hear them

5.  WOMEN HELP HIM KNOW THAT YOU TRUST HIM: 

 

Men need to feel and hear your support.

 

6.  WOMEN ENCOURAGE HIM WHEN HE ATTEMPTS TO HELP YOU:

Tell and show him that you appreciate his help.  If you want a good behavior to be repeated then it needs to be affirmed.  If he doesn’t do things exactly as you would do it then just remind yourself that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.   Different is OK.  Help him know he doesn’t have to be perfect or do things just like you.

 

7.  CUDDLE ON THE COUCH OR TAKE A WALK TOGETHER

 

8.  PRAY TOGETHER EVERYDAY:

Ed Cole, the author of Maximized Manhood, says that when we pray we build intimacy with the One to whom we pray (God), with whom we pray (for example our spouse), and for whom we pray.

 

9.  STUDY THE BIBLE TOGETHER REGULARLY:

I dont know what your religious beliefs are today.  But, I do know what works for me.  I am a Christian and this strategy for successful living really works for me.   I recommend private study time in the Bible everyday.  If you and your spouse can read the Bible together everyday then that would be great too.  At least get into the Book consistently with each other.  Give it a try!

 

10.  HAVE A DATE NIGHT:

 

Every couple no matter how long they have been married needs to spend time alone just the two of them.  A date night is a great way to do this.  One date, your spouse decides what you are going to do. The next date you decide.  I recommend having a date night at least twice a month.  Have one every week if possible.  Enjoy yourselves. Court each other all over again.

 

11.  HAVE A WEEKEND GETAWAY JUST THE TWO OF YOU:

I suggest two or three times a year to go off by yourselves.  Make arrangements for the children to stay with their grandparents, friends, etc and spend time alone as husband and wife.  Enjoy yourselves! Have fun!  Enjoy each other’s company!

My friend, I am convinced that if you put into action these 11 steps then you are going to have a fantastic marriage.  If you already have a good marriage then go for an extraordinary marriage.

Relationships – Have You Made a Difference Today?

Have you made a difference for someone lately?  Theresa Peterson tells a wonderful story of how relationships do make a difference. Abbie Knight was a very lonely depressed ninth grader.  She missed her old eighth grade days.  The high school was so big and intimidating.  All Abbie wanted was a real friend.  Not the ones who act like they are your friends so they can cheat off of you.  She was tired of being used.  The problem was Abbie had trouble making friends.  She was very shy and didn’t know what to do.

Abbie’s parents were very concerned about their little girl. Something that just added to the flame of Abbie’s depression was that her parents were divorced.  Her parents tried everything they could think of to help Abbie.  They bought her the current fads to help her fit in but nothing seemed to help.  Abbie just seemed to keep drifting farther and farther away from them and the world.

Abbie began thinking of suicide.  She was so lonely.  She felt that it didn’t matter if she lived or died.  Who would care?  Who would notice?  These types of questions plagued her mind.

That next year, Abbie joined a Christian youth group at a local church in hopes of making friends.  On the surface, the group adopted Abbie with open arms but under the skin they really weren’t interested in outsiders becoming part of their group.  So much for love.

Abbie decided that she would do it; she was going to end her life. Her parents were going to be at a party on Christmas Eve.  She would be alone.  That was going to be the night she would end it all.

Abbie had it all planned.  She left the house.  In her mind, she had the image of a bridge.  The bridge she would jump off of that night. Before walking to the bridge, Abbie stopped by the mailbox.  She thought it would be proper to leave a note for her parents.  When she opened the mailbox, she saw a bunch of Christmas mail.   She began to thumb through them.  There was some from neighbors, one from her Grandparents…but then…something got her attention. There was one addressed to…her.

Abbie ripped open the letter as fast as she could.  It was from Wesley Hill from the youth group at church.  Wesley apologized for not talking to her sooner.  He explained that his parents were in the process of a divorce.  He said he hoped she would be able to answer some of his questions.  This next part really got Abbie’s attention.  Wesley wrote, “I think we could become friends and help each other.  See you at Youth Group on Sunday!”  Friends.  Somebody wanted to be her friend.  Abbie ran into the house and immediately called her new friend.

The Ancient Writer said, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Relationships do make a difference in our lives.  Love is the key. Love is the motivation.  Love is the answer.

True Friendship is a Growing Plant of Shared Sacrifice and Commitment

George Washington said that True Friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.  Friendship is one of the great blessings from God.  Norman Vincent Peale used to tell a fantastic story of a friendship of shared sacrifice and commitment.

It was a wonderful day on the west coast.  On a beach near San Francisco, two San Francisco State College freshmen decided to go for a swim.  Shirley O’Neill and Albert Kogler flung themselves into the refreshing surf.  Al took the lead.  The two freshmen swam out about fifty yards to calm water and then began floating lazily in theCalifornia sun.  Little did they know that they were being watched. Being sensed is more like it.  One of nature’s most dangerous creatures was stalking its prey.  A great white shark was moving in for the kill.

All of a sudden, Shirley heard a scream.  Al was being pulled down by something.  His head reappeared caked with blood.  Al yelled in agony, “Get away, Shirley!  Get away!  It’s a shark!”  Al didn’t want her help.  If sacrificing himself would save her then it was worth it.

Shirley was paralyzed with fear and shock.  Al’s words rung in her ears.  After what seemed like an eternity, she turned toward shore and began swimming for her life.  But then she stopped.  She couldn’t leave her friend.  She had to help him…if she could.

The water was full of red blood.  She reached for Al’s hand and then pulled back in terror.  His arm had been ripped from his body. She wrapped her arm around Al’s chest.  He was alive.  Shirley began kicking her feet and stroking with her free arm.  The two friends began the slow journey toward shore.  Would the shark return?  Would it bring its friends?  Shirley was getting tired.  Al’s body seemed to get heavier every second.  But she would not let go.  She would not leave her friend.

Finally, Shirley could touch bottom.  At this point, she was exhausted.  She could go no farther.  She tried to scream for help. All that came out of her mouth was a weak yelp.  Nobody would be able to hear that.  Miraculously, Joe Intersonine was fishing some distance down the beach.  His eyes for some reason turned.  He could hardly believe his eyes.  Joe began running toward Shirley and Al.  He then flung his cast like a cowboy with his rope.  The line perfectly landed beside Shirley and Al.  Shirley wrapped it around her waist and Joe reeled them into safety.

By this time, many people saw the trouble and ran to help.  They laid Al on the beach and put a blanket on top of him.  Being a devoted Christian, Shirley asked if she could baptize him.  Al had never had any use for religion but at this moment his heart softened. He nodded “yes” to Shirley.  Shirley ran to the water and gathered some in her swimming cap and baptized Al.   Al was taken to the hospital and died two hours later.

Many of us will never be in a situation to sacrifice our lives for someone else like Shirley and Al.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t sacrifice our lives.  If our motive and desire is to put other people before our self then we do sacrifice our self.  Sacrifice is a necessary ingredient of loving people.

As the Ancient Writer told us,   “Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.”

You Can’t Succeed Alone Because That is Not Success

Let us suppose for just a moment that you could get to the mountaintop of success all by yourself.  You have worked very hard and finally you have made it.  You have reached the peak.  Your success is secure.  You have won the trophy.  Something is not right though.  It is too quiet.  Where is all the clapping?  Where are all the cheers?  You look around and discover that you are all alone. Where is everybody?  Then you remember you succeeded by yourself.  All of a sudden your joy turns to sorrow.   Your head falls, your shoulders slump.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  This was supposed to be the best day of your life.  As a tear rolls down your face, you throw the trophy off the mountaintop.  You watch it descend to the valley.  When it impacts it breaks into a thousand pieces just like your spirit.

My friend, what fun would success be without people to share it with?  We need people and they need us.  The great wonderful fact is that we can’t reach the mountaintop of success all by ourselves. Only with people will we be truly successful.  We help them succeed and they help us.  It is a team effort.  It was Jim Rohn who said, You cannot succeed by yourself.  Its hard to find a rich hermit.

We don’t want to be rich hermits.  We want to be build rich teams. Rich in relationships, rich in money, rich in skills, and rich in faith. When you have accomplished that, that is when you know you are a success.